Bicycle with oversized front wheel – Exploring the charm and history of the iconic Penny Farthing

Riding a bicycle has always been a popular method of transportation and a beloved hobby for many people around the world. Over the years, bicycles have evolved and come in various designs and styles. One classic and retro design that has stood the test of time is the bicycle with a big front wheel.

The distinctive feature of this type of bicycle is its large front wheel, which gives it a unique and eye-catching appearance. The big wheel not only adds to the aesthetic appeal of the bicycle but also serves functional purposes. The large size of the front wheel allows for increased speed and better control, making it a preferred choice for cycling enthusiasts.

This type of bicycle with a big front wheel has a rich history and is often associated with the Victorian era. It was a popular mode of transportation during the late 19th century and was considered a symbol of prestige and status. Today, the bicycle with a big front wheel has made a comeback and is cherished by collectors and vintage bike enthusiasts.

History of the High Wheel Bicycle

The high wheel bicycle, also known as the penny-farthing, was one of the earliest forms of bicycles with a distinctive feature: a large front wheel and a smaller rear wheel. This design made the bicycle agile and allowed for higher speeds compared to its predecessors.

The development of the big wheel bicycle can be traced back to the 1870s when the first prototypes started to appear. One of the early pioneers of this design was James Starley, an English inventor who is often referred to as the father of the bicycle industry. Starley’s Rover safety bicycle, introduced in 1885, featured a chain drive and a smaller front wheel, setting the stage for the modern bicycle.

Before the advent of the high wheel bicycle, bicycles were mainly driven by pedals attached directly to the front wheel. This design limited their speed and efficiency. However, with the invention of the big wheel, riders could achieve higher speeds due to the increased gear ratio provided by the larger wheel. This made the high wheel bicycle a popular choice among athletes and enthusiasts of the time.

Despite its advantages, the big wheel bicycle also came with some drawbacks. One of the main challenges was mounting and dismounting the bicycle, as the rider had to swing their leg over the high wheel. This required skill and balance, making it difficult for beginners and less experienced riders.

Over time, advancements in bicycle technology led to the decline of the high wheel bicycle. The introduction of the safety bicycle with equal-sized wheels and pneumatic tires in the late 1880s made cycling more accessible and safer for the general public. The safety bicycle quickly became the preferred choice and eventually replaced the big wheel bicycle in popularity.

Despite its decline, the big wheel bicycle remains an iconic symbol of the early days of cycling. Its unique design and historical significance continue to fascinate bicycle enthusiasts and collectors alike. Today, replicas of the high wheel bicycle can be found in museums and used by enthusiasts who enjoy its classic and retro charm.

Features of the Big Front Wheel Bicycle

The big front wheel bicycle, also known as the penny-farthing, is a classic and retro design that has several unique features. Here are some of the distinguishing characteristics of this iconic bicycle:

1. Big Front Wheel

The most obvious feature of the big front wheel bicycle is, of course, its large front wheel. This wheel is significantly larger than the rear wheel, giving the bicycle its distinctive appearance. The big front wheel provides several advantages, including increased speed and improved visibility for the rider.

2. High and Forward Position

Another notable feature of the big front wheel bicycle is its high and forward position. Due to the large front wheel, the rider sits in a more elevated position, with their legs extended forward to reach the pedals. This unique seating arrangement gives the bicycle a certain charm and elegance.

3. Direct Drive

The big front wheel bicycle uses a direct drive system, meaning that the pedals are connected directly to the front wheel. Unlike modern bicycles with gears and chains, this direct drive mechanism provides a straightforward and efficient transfer of power from the rider’s legs to the wheel. This simplicity adds to the overall retro appeal of the bicycle.

4. Solid Rubber Tires

Unlike modern bicycles with pneumatic tires, the big front wheel bicycle typically uses solid rubber tires. These solid tires require less maintenance and are less susceptible to punctures. However, they provide a firmer ride compared to their air-filled counterparts.

Feature Description
Big Front Wheel The large front wheel gives the bicycle its distinctive appearance and provides advantages such as increased speed and improved visibility.
High and Forward Position The rider sits in a more elevated position with their legs extended forward, adding to the bicycle’s charm.
Direct Drive The pedals are directly connected to the front wheel, offering a simple and efficient transfer of power.
Solid Rubber Tires The bicycle typically uses solid rubber tires, requiring less maintenance but providing a firmer ride.

Why Choose a Bicycle with a Big Front Wheel

When it comes to bicycles, the size of the wheel plays an important role in determining the overall performance and ride experience. While there are various wheel sizes available, choosing a bicycle with a big front wheel offers several advantages.

1. Enhanced Speed

A big front wheel allows for greater rotational momentum, resulting in enhanced speed. The larger circumference of the wheel enables the bike to cover more distance with each rotation, allowing riders to reach higher speeds with less effort. Whether you’re commuting or racing, a bicycle with a big front wheel can help you ride faster and more efficiently.

2. Improved Stability

Another benefit of a big front wheel is improved stability. The larger diameter of the wheel provides better balance, especially when navigating uneven surfaces or making sharp turns. This can be particularly beneficial for riders who are new to cycling or those who prefer a more stable and controlled ride.

3. Classic and Retro Design

Bicycles with big front wheels have a classic and retro design that adds a touch of nostalgia and uniqueness. These bicycles are reminiscent of the early days of cycling, capturing the essence of a bygone era. Riding a bicycle with a big front wheel is not only a means of transportation but also a way to make a fashion statement and stand out from the crowd.

In conclusion, choosing a bicycle with a big front wheel can provide a thrilling ride experience with enhanced speed, improved stability, and a touch of classic and retro design. Whether you’re a passionate cyclist or simply looking for a unique mode of transportation, a bicycle with a big front wheel is definitely worth considering.

Advantages of the Big Front Wheel Design

The design of the big front wheel on a bicycle offers several advantages:

  • Enhanced visibility: The large front wheel allows the rider to have a higher vantage point, improving visibility of the surroundings.
  • Efficient energy transfer: The size of the wheel enables the rider to effortlessly transfer power to the bicycle, resulting in a smoother riding experience.
  • Increased speed: The larger circumference of the front wheel allows for greater speed, making it suitable for long-distance riding or racing.
  • Improved stability: The big front wheel design provides a more stable and balanced ride, enhancing control and reducing the chances of accidents.
  • Classic and retro aesthetics: The big front wheel design adds a nostalgic and unique charm to the bicycle, appealing to those who appreciate vintage and classic styles.

Disadvantages of the Big Front Wheel Design

While a bicycle with a big front wheel may have a classic and retro design, it also comes with a few disadvantages. These drawbacks are worth considering before purchasing such a bicycle:

  • Difficulty in mounting and dismounting: The large front wheel makes it challenging to climb on and off the bicycle. Riders may need to use a mounting block or step stool to mount the bike comfortably.
  • Unstable at low speeds: Due to the uneven weight distribution caused by the large front wheel, bicycles with a big front wheel tend to be unstable at low speeds. This can make it difficult to maintain balance or ride smoothly, especially when starting or stopping.
  • Limited braking capability: Compared to bicycles with smaller front wheels, bicycles with a big front wheel may have limited braking capability. The large front wheel can interfere with the placement and effectiveness of traditional brake systems, making it more challenging to stop quickly or safely.
  • Increased vulnerability to rough terrain: The large front wheel design is more susceptible to the effects of rough terrain, such as potholes or bumps. The lack of suspension and the higher center of gravity can make the ride less comfortable and more prone to accidents or damage.

While a big front wheel bicycle can offer a unique and eye-catching aesthetic, it’s important to weigh these disadvantages against the advantages and consider the intended use and riding conditions before making a decision.

Classic and Retro Appeal

The bicycle with a big front wheel, also known as the penny-farthing, is an iconic symbol of classic and retro design. With its distinctive large front wheel and a smaller rear wheel, this bicycle instantly catches the attention of onlookers and evokes a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era.

One of the key features that defines the classic appeal of this bicycle is its big front wheel. In a time where bicycles had relatively small wheels, the penny-farthing stood out with its grandeur. The large wheel not only added to the aesthetic appeal but also served a practical purpose. It allowed riders to cover greater distances with each pedal stroke, making it an efficient mode of transportation during its time.

A Symbol of Elegance

The big front wheel of the bicycle gives it a unique and elegant look. Its elongated shape and tall height create a striking visual, instantly grabbing attention wherever it goes. The minimalist design, with a simple frame and no gears or brakes, adds to its charm and gives it a timeless appeal.

A Window to the Past

When you ride a bicycle with a big front wheel, you can’t help but feel connected to a different era. This bicycle transports you back to a time when life was simpler and slower-paced. It allows you to experience the world from a different perspective and appreciate the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the past.

Today, the bicycle with a big front wheel has become more than just a mode of transportation. It has turned into a symbol of style, elegance, and a passion for classic design. Whether displayed in a museum or ridden on the streets, this bicycle continues to captivate and fascinate people with its classic and retro appeal.

Modern Reproductions

Despite being an iconic symbol of the past, the big front wheel bicycle design has made a modern comeback in recent years. Thanks to advances in technology and manufacturing, bicycle enthusiasts can now find high-quality modern reproductions that effortlessly capture the classic and retro look of the original design.

Quality Craftsmanship

Modern reproductions of the big front wheel bicycle feature meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail. These bikes are built with high-quality materials and components, ensuring durability and longevity. From the intricately designed frame to the smooth and precise ride, every aspect is crafted to recreate the essence of the original design.

Enhanced Performance

While maintaining the nostalgic look, modern reproductions have also incorporated modern advancements in bicycle technology. Improved braking systems, lightweight frames, and responsive steering contribute to a superior riding experience. Cyclists can enjoy the distinctive charm of the big front wheel design while benefiting from the enhanced performance that comes with modern engineering.

Collecting Vintage High Wheel Bicycles

If you are a fan of bicycles with big front wheels, also known as high wheel bicycles or penny farthings, you might be interested in collecting vintage ones. These unique bicycles have a classic and retro design that can bring a touch of history to any collection.

Where to Find Vintage High Wheel Bicycles?

There are several ways to find vintage high wheel bicycles for your collection. One option is to attend antique bike shows or swap meets, where vendors often display and sell these bicycles. You can also check online auction websites or local classified ads for listings of vintage bicycles.

Another option is to join vintage bicycle clubs or societies. These organizations often have dedicated members who are passionate about preserving and collecting vintage bicycles. They may organize events or have connections to sellers who specialize in vintage high wheel bicycles.

What to Look for in a Vintage High Wheel Bicycle?

When collecting vintage high wheel bicycles, it’s important to consider their condition, authenticity, and rarity. Look for bicycles that are in good, rideable condition, as they will not only be aesthetically pleasing but also functional. Check for any missing or damaged parts, and consider the availability of replacements.

Authenticity is also crucial for collectors. Research the history and markings of the bicycle model you are interested in, and ensure that any modifications or restorations have been done with respect to the original design. The more authentic a vintage high wheel bicycle is, the higher its value for collectors.

Rarity can also greatly influence the value and desirability of a vintage high wheel bicycle. Some models were produced in limited quantities, making them more sought after by collectors. Look for unique features or variations that set a bicycle apart from others of its kind.

Lastly, it’s important to acquire vintage high wheel bicycles from reputable sellers. Look for sellers with a good reputation and positive reviews to ensure that you are purchasing an authentic and high-quality bicycle for your collection.

Collecting vintage high wheel bicycles can be a rewarding hobby for enthusiasts of classic and retro designs. With proper research and care, you can build a collection that showcases the charm and ingenuity of these unique bicycles.

Riding a High Wheel Bicycle

Riding a high wheel bicycle, also known as a Penny Farthing, is an exhilarating experience. The defining feature of this classic and retro design is the large front wheel, which gives the bicycle its unique look and feel.

The Big Wheel

The big wheel of the high wheel bicycle is not just for aesthetics, but also plays a crucial role in how the bicycle operates. The larger diameter of the wheel allows riders to cover more ground with each pedal stroke, making it a faster mode of transportation compared to bicycles with smaller wheels.

However, riding a high wheel bicycle requires a different level of skill and balance. Mounting the bicycle can be challenging as the rider needs to step onto the small rear wheel and gain momentum by pushing off the ground. Once in motion, the rider sits high up on the large front wheel, giving them a commanding view of the road ahead.

Controlling the Bicycle

Steering a high wheel bicycle takes some practice and finesse. Unlike modern bicycles with handlebars, the high wheel bicycle uses a system called the “direct drive,” where turning the handlebars directly moves the front wheel. This means that the rider must be attentive and make small adjustments to maintain balance and control.

Another important aspect of riding a high wheel bicycle is braking. The bicycle typically has a spoon brake, which consists of a metal pad pressed against the tire to slow down or stop the bicycle. Braking on a high wheel bicycle requires careful timing and coordination, as sudden stops can result in the rider being thrown from the bicycle.

Pros Cons
Unique and stylish design Requires special skill and balance
Faster mode of transportation Can be challenging to mount and dismount
Commanding view of the road Requires extra caution when braking

Riding a high wheel bicycle is a nostalgic and rewarding experience. It allows riders to connect with the past while enjoying the thrill of riding a unique and eye-catching bicycle. Whether for leisurely rides or historical reenactments, the high wheel bicycle continues to captivate cycling enthusiasts and evoke a sense of adventure.

Events and Competitions

If you are a fan of bicycles with a big front wheel, then you definitely shouldn’t miss the exciting events and competitions dedicated to this unique design. These events offer a great opportunity to admire and showcase the charm and elegance of these classic and retro bicycles.

One of the most popular events is the “Big Wheel Race”, where participants ride their front big wheel bicycles to compete in a thrilling race. The race track is specifically designed to test the skills and agility of the riders, making it an exhilarating experience for both the participants and spectators.

Another event that attracts enthusiasts of big front wheel bicycles is the “Vintage Bicycle Show”. Here, participants can display their own collection of vintage bicycles, including those with a big front wheel. The show is a perfect platform to appreciate the intricacies of these antique bicycles and also provides an opportunity to connect with other passionate collectors.

For those looking to witness some impressive stunts and tricks on big wheel bicycles, the “Freestyle Big Wheel Competition” is a must-see. Skilled and daring riders showcase their talent and creativity through various acrobatic moves and jumps, leaving the audience amazed and entertained.

In addition to these events, there are also endurance races, time trials, and even themed parades dedicated to bicycles with a big front wheel. These events not only provide an opportunity to celebrate the rich history of these bicycles but also promote a sense of community among enthusiasts.

So, whether you own a front big wheel bicycle or simply appreciate the beauty of its design, make sure to mark your calendar for these exciting events and competitions. You don’t want to miss the chance to immerse yourself in the world of classic and retro bicycles!

Safety Precautions

Riding a bicycle with a big front wheel requires a level of caution and adherence to safety precautions. Here are some important tips to ensure a safe riding experience:

1. Helmet: Always wear a sturdy and well-fitted helmet to protect your head in case of any accidents or falls. The helmet should cover your forehead and be securely fastened.

2. Traffic Rules: Observe and follow all traffic rules and regulations while riding on the road. This includes stopping at red lights, yielding right-of-way, and obeying speed limits.

3. Visibility: Make sure you are easily visible to other road users by wearing bright-colored clothing and using reflectors or lights on your bicycle. This is particularly important when riding in low-light conditions.

4. Brakes and Tires: Regularly check and maintain the brakes and tires of your bicycle. Ensure the brakes are in good working condition and the tires are properly inflated to provide optimal control and safety.

5. Riding Technique: Learn and practice proper riding techniques, such as balancing and steering, especially when riding a bicycle with a big front wheel. Start by riding in a safe and controlled environment before venturing onto busy roads or crowded areas.

6. Be Alert: Stay vigilant and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Watch out for potential hazards, such as potholes, debris, or pedestrians, and adjust your speed accordingly.

7. Personal Protective Gear: Consider wearing additional protective gear, such as knee or elbow pads, to reduce the risk of injuries in case of a fall or collision.

By following these safety precautions, you can enjoy your ride on a bicycle with a big front wheel while minimizing the risk of accidents and ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.

Maintenance and Care

Maintaining and caring for a big front wheel bicycle is essential to ensure its longevity and optimal performance. Here are some tips to help you keep your bicycle in top condition:

Regular Cleaning

Clean your big front wheel bicycle regularly to remove dirt, dust, and grime. Use a mild soap or bicycle-specific cleaner and a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub the frame, wheels, and other components. Rinse thoroughly with water and dry with a clean towel.

Tire Care

Check the tire pressure regularly and inflate the tires to the recommended level. Inspect the tires for any signs of wear or damage, such as cuts or bulges, and replace them if necessary. Keep an eye on the tread depth to ensure proper grip and traction.

Proper Lubrication

Apply lubricant to the chain, derailleur, and other moving parts of the bicycle. This helps reduce friction and ensures smooth operation. Wipe off any excess lubricant to prevent attracting dirt and grime.

Brake Maintenance

Check the brake pads regularly and replace them if they are worn out. Adjust the brake cables as needed to ensure proper braking performance. Test the brakes before every ride to ensure they are functioning correctly.


Store your big front wheel bicycle in a dry and secure place, away from extreme temperatures and direct sunlight. Use a bicycle cover or a storage bag to protect it from dust and moisture.

By following these maintenance and care tips, you can keep your big front wheel bicycle in excellent condition and enjoy many years of riding pleasure.

Popular Brands of High Wheel Bicycles

High wheel bicycles, also known as penny-farthings, were a popular form of transportation in the late 19th century. While these bicycles have long been replaced by modern designs, there are still a few brands that produce high wheel bicycles for enthusiasts and collectors. Here are some popular brands:

1. Penny-farthing Cycles

Penny-farthing Cycles is a well-known brand that specializes in high wheel bicycles. They offer a wide range of models, from basic designs for beginners to high-end, custom-made bicycles for professionals. Their bicycles are known for their quality craftsmanship and attention to detail.

2. Velo Orange

Velo Orange is another popular brand that produces high wheel bicycles. They are known for their retro-inspired designs and high-quality components. Velo Orange bicycles are built to last and provide a smooth and comfortable ride. They offer a variety of models to suit different riding styles and preferences.

If you’re interested in purchasing a high wheel bicycle, be sure to do your research and find a reputable brand that has a good reputation for quality and customer service. High wheel bicycles require more skill and balance to ride compared to modern bicycles, so it’s important to choose a brand that provides adequate support and guidance for beginners.

Whether you’re a vintage bicycle enthusiast or simply looking to experience the thrill of riding a high wheel bicycle, these popular brands offer a range of options to suit your needs. Remember to practice safe riding and always wear a helmet when riding a high wheel bicycle.

Price Ranges and Availability

When it comes to bicycles with a big front wheel, the price ranges can vary depending on various factors such as the brand, materials used, and overall design. These classic and retro-style bicycles are often considered collectors’ items and are sought after by cycling enthusiasts and vintage lovers alike.

The price range for a big front wheel bicycle can start from as low as $500 for a basic model and can go up to several thousand dollars for a high-end, custom-made version. The availability of these bicycles may also vary, as they are not as commonly found in regular bicycle shops and may require special ordering or searching through niche vintage stores and online platforms.

It is important to note that the availability of parts and accessories for big front wheel bicycles may also be limited, as they are not as widely produced as modern bicycles. Therefore, it is important to consider this aspect when purchasing a big front wheel bicycle, as maintenance and repairs may require some effort and sourcing of specific parts.

Overall, if you are looking to own a piece of cycling history and enjoy the unique experience of riding a bicycle with a big front wheel, be prepared to invest both financially and in terms of finding the right source for your desired model.

Questions and answers:

What is a bicycle with a big front wheel?

A bicycle with a big front wheel, also known as a penny-farthing, is a vintage bicycle design that features a large front wheel and a small rear wheel.

When was the bicycle with a big front wheel popular?

The bicycle with a big front wheel was most popular during the late 19th century, from the 1870s to the 1890s.

What are the advantages of a bicycle with a big front wheel?

Some of the advantages of a bicycle with a big front wheel include a smoother ride due to the larger wheel, increased speed and efficiency, and the ability to see over obstacles and traffic.

Are there any disadvantages to riding a bicycle with a big front wheel?

Yes, there are some disadvantages to riding a bicycle with a big front wheel. It can be more difficult to mount and dismount, and it requires a higher level of skill and balance. Additionally, the lack of gears can make it challenging to ride up steep hills.

Where can I buy a bicycle with a big front wheel?

You can try searching for vintage bicycle shops, online marketplaces, or specialized bicycle collectors to find a bicycle with a big front wheel. However, please note that they may be more expensive and harder to find due to their rarity.

What is a bicycle with a big front wheel?

A bicycle with a big front wheel, also known as a penny-farthing, is a type of bicycle that was popular in the late 19th century. It features a large wheel in the front and a smaller wheel in the back, giving it a distinctive look.

Who invented the bicycle with a big front wheel?

The bicycle with a big front wheel was invented by Eugène Meyer of Paris, France in 1869. He designed the bicycle to improve upon the designs of previous velocipedes, which were the precursors to modern bicycles.

Why did the bicycle with a big front wheel lose its popularity?

The bicycle with a big front wheel lost its popularity for several reasons. One of the main reasons was the danger associated with riding such a tall and unstable bicycle. Additionally, the introduction of the safety bicycle, which featured two wheels of equal size, made for a much more comfortable and safer ride.